Nacer Bouhanni has been left out of the FDJ.fr team for the Tour de France, with the role of designated sprinter instead handed to Arnaud Démare. Thibaut Pinot will lead the French squad’s tilt at the general classification.
FDJ.fr confirmed eight of its nine-man roster in a statement on Monday afternoon and noted that the final berth on the team will be filled by either Cédric Pineau or Francis Mourey. Team manager Marc Madiot will announce the final line-up after next Sunday's French championship road race in Futuroscope.
In spite of landing three stage victories and the points classification at the recent Giro d’Italia, there is no place for Bouhanni, however, who had already missed out to Démare when FDJ.fr made its selection for Milan-San Remo in March.
"That’s the way it is," Bouhanni told L'Équipe on Monday afternoon. "The FDJ management have made their choice and I respect their decision even if I'm disappointed because this year the Tour was going through the Vosges [his home region – ed.] But I'm not going to cry because I wasn't picked for the Tour. I'm going to concentrate on the French championships and take advantage of my current form to try to put together a fine performance."
Bouhanni is out of contract at the end of this season and has attracted interest from a number of teams for 2015. His absence from the Tour suggests that he will not be at FDJ.fr next season - earlier this month, he said that he had narrowed his options down to three teams, believed to be FDJ , Cofidis and an unnamed foreign team. "If I sign with FDJ, I would do the Tour," he told L'Équipe on that occasion.
Bouhanni got the nod ahead of Démare for last year's Tour but abandoned through illness at the end of the first week.
The 22-year-old Démare is making his Tour debut – his only previous grand tour appearance came at the 2012 Giro – and he arrives in Leeds buoyed by a fine spring campaign. After taking 2nd at Gent-Wevelgem and 12th at Paris-Roubaix, the Frenchman proceeded to dominate the Four Days of Dunkirk, winning two stages and the overall.
Démare will be joined in the FDJ.fr line-up by his regular lead-out team of William Bonnet and Mickaël Delage, while there are also spots for Arthur Vichot, Matthieu Ladagnous, Jérémy Roy and Arnold Jeannesson.
The team’s general classification hopes will rest primarily on the shoulders of Thibaut Pinot, who claimed a stage victory and finished 10th overall on his debut two years ago. The climber struggled with a fear of descending before abandoning the 2013 edition through illness, but he bounced back to claim 7th overall at the Vuelta a España last September.
FDJ.fr team for the Tour de France: William Bonnet, Mickaël Delage, Arnaud Démare, Arnold Jeannesson, Matthieu Ladagnous, Thibaut Pinot, Jérémy Roy, Arthur Vichot, plus Cédric Pineau or Francis Mourey.